Saturday, December 14, 2013
With Pablo in tow, do Knicks need Lowry?
By Ian Begley
NEW YORK -- Sometime on Sunday, members of the Knicks front office will probably reengage with Toronto Raptors management to talk about a possible Kyle Lowry trade.
Toronto's demands are steep.
According to various reports, including those from ESPN.com's Marc Stein, Toronto is looking for a package including Raymond Felton and a combination of two of the following: a first-round pick, Tim Hardaway Jr. or Iman Shumpert.
Essentially, the Knicks will have to give up significant pieces of their future to land Lowry.
Pablo Prigioni sparked the fourth-quarter run that helped the Knicks seal the win at MSG.
Lowry would be an upgrade over what the Knicks have seen from Felton so far. Opposing point guards have produced a 17.2 PER -- a measure of a player's per minute offensive production -- against Felton. He has produced a 10.6.
Lowry, on the other hand, is producing a 17.3 PER and allowing his opponent to produce a 12.9 PER. Based on that metric, Lowry would be a big upgrade over Felton.
Could Felton's numbers improve if he's healthy? Of course, but at 7-16, the Knicks might not be willing to wait.
It's not crazy to think an infusion of Lowry can help the Knicks turn their moribund season around.
However, when they're talking to Toronto on Sunday -- the first day that free-agent signee Metta World Peace, another player rumored to be on the table, is eligible to be traded -- the Knicks should at least consider the idea that Pablo Prigioni can hold things down at point guard until Felton returns.
The latest example of Prigioni's handiwork came on Saturday night. The veteran point guard finished with 11 points, 6 assists and 4 steals in the Knicks' win over Atlanta.
"He’s playing great," Amar'e Stoudemire said. "He was able to create some tempo for us, got us in a lot of pick-and-roll action. He's playing really well."
Prigioni was at his best in the fourth quarter on Saturday.
The Hawks had trimmed the Knicks' 14-point lead down to four with 7:41 to play. Carmelo Anthony knocked down a three on the Knicks' next possession. Shortly thereafter, Prigioni knocked down a 3-pointer of his own to put the Knicks up 10.
He then added a steal and layup to give New York a 12-point cushion. To cap things off, Prigioni found Andrea Bargnani on a behind-the-back pass, and Bargnani converted a 3 to put the Knicks up by 15. Game over.
Afterward, Mike Woodson singled out Prigioni as the impetus for the Knicks' improved ball movement.
"Pablo was great," Mike Woodson said.
The Knicks are 4-2 with Prigioni in the starting lineup. Woodson, though, has been hesitant to start Prigioni regularly. The move has baffled a segment of the fan base. When Prigioni started alongside Felton in the backcourt last season, the Knicks went 15-1.
This season, Woodson has opted to start a bigger shooting guard to compete with the bigger backcourts in the Eastern Conference. That's left Prigioni on the bench.
The Argentine will get a chance to start several games with Felton out. He has his shortcomings on defense, but if Prigioni can recreate the role he played so well last season -- facilitator, pick-and-roll igniter, open shot-maker (when he takes them) -- maybe the Knicks can start to crawl out of their 7-16 hole.
And maybe they can think about keeping their future intact and keeping Lowry in Toronto.